Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rotorua (to start with)

Hmm, where to begin? We've been in Rotorua for over two weeks now, and it has been a struggle to find time to write this!

As soon as we had our van back, we set out on the road to the Bay of Plenty instantly. The relief of having our van back and running without issue was immense, and we made full use of being able to pull up and sleep wherever we liked that night, stopping in a layby just above Rotorua. The next morning we head straight into the centre of the small city.

The high streets are more or less what you'd expect of any tourist town, with its share of souvenir shops innumerable, but its real treasures lay just beyond. Mountain biking, goethermal valleys, volcanos, white water rafting, white water sledging, kayaking, spas, mineral hot pools, Maori villages, skydiving, zorbing, luging, hiking... there is, quite simply, too much to do here. We quickly decided we wanted to stick around and experience this part of the country properly.

It was quickly apparent that the geothermal activity here is not exaggerated! The area sits atop a collection of calderas that form most of central North Island, with Lake Rotorua being the enormous crater of one. The earth's crust here is painfully thin, leading to countless geological marvels, each unique unto themselves.  Parts of the city are littered with steaming vents, bubbling pools or just vast holes in the ground belching out thick clouds of white steam. The effect isn't too dissimilar to a traction engine convention, only more eggy.

On the recommendation of the information centre, we headed to the Cosy Cottage Holiday Park for our first night in the city. After a warm welcome, the receptionist quickly drew our attention to the possibility of work here in exchange for accommodation. I’d expected there to be a bit of a job hunt, asking at campsites and hostels around town, but here was the first place we’d come to, and it was almost there for the taking! Sadly, the manager wasn’t in that day, and we were encouraged to come back a few days later and ask for him then. The chance to enjoy hot running water, showers and wash our clothes was a welcome relief, but what stood out about this campsite was the promise of thermal heated relaxation pools. All around the site, steam curled into the air; from drain grids, from the ditches on the edge. One corner of the campsite was fenced off because a pool of boiling mud 4 metres in diameter had settled in there with no intention of moving. Beside it was a Hangi (thermal steam oven), with pipes leading into the hot earth being the only power necessary to cook a perfect shoulder of lamb. Even the tent pitches were areas of grass warmed from beneath the ground – a luxury no doubt appreciated in the winter months, but sadly wasted on us in our van!

No comments:

Post a Comment